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When I took a creative writing class at UCSD many years ago, one fellow student made a claim that the behavior of a certain character was unbelievable because that's not how girls think. Someone else suggested that whatever you think are the limits of human behavior, there's almost always someone that has gone beyond that limit. The more I read, the more I recognize how individual we all are. Among the myriad skills that a person can have, there are combinations of skill, and there are tendencies to use certain skills in certain situations. Given these variables, there is a tremendous number of possible ways for a person to be.

For example, how much of a positive attitude do you have? How curious are you being? Are you a good listener? Do you teach well? How patient are you with children? With adults? How viciously would you fight if someone were pulling your hair? Of course, the answers to these questions change over time.

Each of us has an idea of the range of different ways people can be. In mathematical terms, let's think of each person's "way of being" at this instant as a point in a box. Take three measures of behavior or personality, like...
  1. How likely it is that your behavior toward others will produce an outcome favorable to yourself.
  2. How much of a daylog you will read when it starts meandering into math.
  3. What is the relative importance of ideas you get from other noders compared with those you get from friends and coworkers?
These measurements are not well enough defined to actualize, but if we pretend that we filled in enough detail, we can imagine that we could start collecting measurements under highly controlled circumstances. We would get three numbers for each of us. If we use those three numbers as spatial coordinates, we would expect to see similar people represent points that are near each other. If we take the measurements periodically, we'd expect to see that the points for each of us move around, delineating a volume, like a balloon with a funny shape. Suppose we were able to collect these measurements for everyone and we looked at how the balloons intersect with each other and who has large balloons and whose balloons extend out toward the edge of the box.

Manic-depressives would likely have large balloons, whereas conservative old ladies would probably have small ones. But if we wait long enough and allow our subjects to get themselves into extreme situations, we might see people take remarkable excursions outside of the balloons in which we usually find them. Perhaps you are now wondering, what is the point of all this silly mapping of mathematics to human behavior?

I think if you pick interesting measurements and you think about the kinds of people that would occupy balloons that are small or large or squished up against the side of the box, you can get a good feel for all the different kinds of people there are, and how amazing we are. It's a fun thing for a geek like me to think about, but I have drawn a helpful conslusion from it as well: The kind of realizations that change our lives for the better often come from being very near to the edge of our balloons. Explore your limits, and help others explore theirs. Also, consider the likelihood that the balloons of people you know may be much larger that you think. Coming up with interesting measurements of behavior or personality can make these mathematical musings very enlightening.
is it wednesday already? looks like i missed some time. more time than i thought...i missed a few wednesdays...

I haven't really been right since mid-May, I guess. thisbe fell in love with someone else, but i guess i owe her that, and then she went on a jaunt across the mediterranean, from which i'm still waiting for her to return. i keep waiting to hear that a plane went down coming back from istanbul. i miss her, him, all the things it could be, every time it turned its head.

i'm frightenend that too much time has passed tor me to go back to anything that i was. I have to go back and attempt to reclaim the remains of a class i dropped out of, this june, when my health ran screaming for the hills. turns out that it was all a bunch of functions spawned from fibroids in the uterus...i'd say benign, but how benign is anything that lands you in the hospital and consumes your short-term memory, on the tail of most of your carbohydrates? how benign is something that turns you from a diabetic into a hypoglycemic in the course of a week? it might not be malignant, but i'd settle for belligerent

well, i had the thing out on monday, so i'll live, and i'll go back to life as i remember it...i think...but i don't remember almost a month, in any sort of proper fashion. i've become apathetic. i can't care that i have no money, that i might not make rent, because my insurance won't touch anything but cancer being removed from that part of my body. i can't care that i may have wasted $600 on a class i might not be able to make up. i can't be bothered with my favourite online game, or with eating, or sleeping, or much of anything... this is the first burst of motivation i've had in weeks, and i'm using it to write this.

i write this so that if anything goes horribly awry, there will be a record. i write this because i keep losing pieces of my mind. it's really astounding how much memory, personality, and functionality tumour-induced hypoglycemia can destroy. i know my name, i know where i live, i know what i'm supposed to be doing, but i can't care, because i don't know who i am.

i came back here, because i'm hoping what i've written here will help me remember what i've lost.

i'm really really afraid.

Hi everybody! I haven’t wrote anything for a while because the summer has kept me pretty busy. I’m going to a sleep over camp all next week with the Brownies and I hope it will be fun. I’m a little scared but I think it will be okay. I hope I can write about it when I get back. This is a short poem I wrote with my friend Gracie last night. I hope you like it. It’s called “Want To Make A Choice.”

Want To Make A Choice

You see me now
You saw me then
And I wonder what
I could have been

I want to pull off this face
I want to learn my place
But I think it is too late

I sit here and wonder
What else I could be?
I’m not a simple person
I guess right now
I’m all that I can be

Under the sweltering heat of the summer sun it is easy to get a temper, especially when mired in the conflict of a heated rivalry. No, I'm not talking about a playground bully, I'm talking about baseball. The Boston Red Sox finished a four game series with the New York Yankees yesterday, and all I can say is "ugly."

I'm not talking about the physical looks of either team, as much as I hate to admit it, the Yanks are as good, if not better, than the Bosox. However, these two teams have so much history together, for so long, that that is what really drives and sells this matchup. Ask any Bostonian what they think of the New York Yankees and I'm sure you'll get an expletive filled response, comments of the "Devil's Bitches" or "the worst thing to ever happen to baseball".

So when these teams meet, we all take an interest to see what they do, and how they act. An all too common occurance in Major League Baseball is the physicality of the sport. No, I don't mean slamming into the catcher at home plate, I'm talking about beanballs and retaliation, baseball's new buzzword du jour. During Roger Clemens' outing, where he got walloped by the Red Sox hitters, he hit Kevin Millar on the brim of his batter's helmet. Was this because he was frustrated it's taking him so long to get 301? Or the fact the Sox were making him look like he should have retired already? Who knows, because I sure don't.

It could have been an act of retaliation, yes, but let's skip ahead two games, to the last matchup of the series. Pedro Martinez is pitching for Boston, by far the best pitcher to pitch in Beantown is Clemens himself. Pedro hits both Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter in the hands, causing both players to have MRIs and forcing both players out of the game. Derek Jeter is the Yankee's captain, and Alfonso Soriano is the best 2nd baseman the majors have seen in years. With both players having been hit, by a Red Sock pitcher, many wondered how Mike Mussina, the Yankee's pitcher that day, would respond. Would he hit Nomah in the hand? Or maybe he'd take out slugger Manny Ramirez? Nope. Moose would do nothing of the sort. Instead he retired 21 Red Sox hitters in a row. That's 7 straight innings where the Red Sox were shutout and shutdown. That's retaliation.

Major League Baseball is becoming violent. I can remember watching SportsCenter years ago and rarely seeing a basebrawl. Now, it seems like every month the benches clear in atleast one game, if not more. Pitchers throw at hitters for hitting grand slams, pitchers throw at hitters when the opposing pitcher hits a player. Frankly, this is absurd. Baseball is a game, folks. Yes, it's their job too. They get paid to go out and win. They do not get paid to brawl. They do not get paid to hurt others.

So what has the MLB done about this? Not too much really. When Mike Piazza charged the mound he got a 4 game suspension, as did the pitcher, Guillermo Mota. 4 games? Out of 182? The pitcher only missed one start. Oh, and this happened in spring training! Pre-season! And Piazza's charging the mound! Sammy Sosa gets 7 games and a reputation as an idiot for using a corked bat, and Piazza gets four games for charging the mound?

A game that once had a great meaning for several people is being stepped on and muddied. Baseball is not hockey. The game is not supposed to be a violent brawl every time someone gets hit with a baseball. I'm sure it hurts, but I'm also sure it's not intentional more often than it is. Unless your on steroids, I'm sure you can control your aggression. You are, afterall, not God's gift to baseball.

So what can be done about this? Well, thankfully, Bud Selig is not going to be running for another term as commissioner of baseball, so hopefully something can get done about this. If I were in charge, I'd make the fines rediculous. If you are a player and you leave your dugout, automatic one game suspension. Boom! Done, automatic. You purposefully hit someone as a pitcher, out for 2 weeks, atleast. Charging the mound? A week, atleast. Your entire team leaves the dugout? They're all suspended one game. Hope you have reserves.

Drastic? Yes. But if you want to curb this sort of behavior that's what you have to do. It's obvious to tell that the NBA loves their pot-heads. They do not have strong punishments for those caught with ganja in thier car, or a joint in their pocket. All in all, what does this show the kids? If I ever have kids, and am coaching a team, and one little Johnny gets plunked and charges the mound, I'd throw him off my team. I'd probably spank him in public. Of course, by that time it might be acceptable ball, and the game I grew up with would be gone.

I saw my doctor yesterday for another follow-up appointment from my surgery and was given some rather amusing news. It seems that my brain is confused when it comes to have pieces of intestine removed. Y'see, just because *I* know that the surgeon scooped out bits of bowel from my body, it doesn't mean that my brain knows just yet. It's still trying to access those pieces of intestine as part of the act of digestion... and it's not finding them. This is confusing the brain to no end, thus resulting in pains, fatigue, and other nagging little symptoms.

Until my brain figures out just what the hell is going on, it's going to be flummoxed about the "intestine not found" message coming from the digestive tract. It will figure things out within a year and make the necessary adjustments, and then these problems should taper off. I'm not complaining, mind you - after what I've been through this year, these little pains and sleepiness are a walk in the park. Poor brain; it's always the last to know sometimes. But beyond that I've been told to keep doing what I'm doing health-wise and, if nothing flares up, to see the doctor again in three months for another check.

Here's wishing good health, happiness, and delicious sandwiches to you all!

On this day in 1896, William Jennings Bryan gave his historic "Cross of Gold" speech at the Democratic National Convention. The original New York Times article reporting the events at the Convention can be found here:


My favorite bit is when the writer refers to Bryan as "the gifted blatherskite from Nebraska".

"Blatherskite." Hee hee.

I hate electricity.

It can truly be one of the worst inventions at times like this.

This week is forecasted to have at least one thunderstorm a day, not good news for us waiting after the destruction from the first storm.

In our small country town they don't give us city pump lines - so we all have well water which the little mechanisms in the well are run by electric - so resulting in we have NO water. Luckily our dry creek bed is no longer dry from the flooding we drug buckets up so we could flush the toilets.

We've been with out electric since Monday night and they're saying we could possibly have electric tomorrow on the 10th. First Energy only gives me statistical figures whenever I call asking what in hell is going!? in terms of how many people they have working and that in Ohio there is 300k people without electric and 192k in Northeastern Ohio alone.

If Thomas Edison was alive I would say he would be on my hit list - until than this is situation will be have to be made to it's best: Amish paradise.

I'm writing this from school which my last day of classes is tomorrow - due to lightening striking my house and frying out the modem we have no internet on top of the electricity problem at the house. We have a new computer on the way late next week so until than I'll be on a temporary hiatus.

Darl's adventures in India: part three.

One thing I'm conscious of in writing this is that I must be careful not to alienate you. It's a fine line to tread: I shouldn't supply too much detail, because then you'll feel as lost and bewildered as I did when I first arrived here in Tamil Nadu, but then I mustn't not give you detail because that would be, well, boring. My limited experience of other people's gap year tales is that they become a confusing swirl of amazing Amazonian white water rafting, dinners of raw fish, and spiritual moments with gorillas. I have tried to avoid this, because it wouldn't really mean anything to you, at home, to read any of this: it's just too remote. With this caveat in mind, I'm going to talk, only briefly, about some things I have done out here.

Two weeks ago, I went to the temple town of Rameswaram, the closest Indian settlement to Sri Lanka: so close, in fact, that the police presence is very large. The town's island is connected to the Indian mainland by a causeway for road and rail that is about 5km long and horribly precarious.

The views from this sleepy fishing town-come-pilgrimage centre are as idyllic as you could wish. The sands are white, the sea is painfully azure, the palm trees loll over the water at their infinite leisure and little fishing huts cluster with ludicrously picturesque ease around the swathes of beach. Swimming in the Ocean - so salty it almost supports you entirely - is of course a must, as is visiting the small shrines that dot the coastline. As is burning your shoulders so badly they peel for two weeks.

When the tide goes out, these coastal shrines tower over virtual deserts that stretch as far as you can see, and quite probably further: the sea here is very tidal indeed. When you're done beaching, head back into the town itself to Rameswaram's temple: one of the most important sites of worship in South India.

Two branches of worship, usually quite different, are united in this temple. Here it was that Rama (an incarnation of Ganesh- the elephant headed God that you will recognise, whether you know it or not) worshipped Shiva. Thus worshippers of both Ganesh and Shiva (two thirds of the trio of high Hindu Gods - Vishnu is missing) come here. Boasting 22 wells (teerthams) all of which have different healing properties, pilgrims flock here in vast numbers. The temple site is very large, and the corridors alone stretch for kilometres. It's a veritable hive of spirituality, and you do feel very intrusive just wandering around. It is easy to get lost, and end up inadvertently in the Hindu-only sanctum of the temple.

Once you're there, however, everyone will be very nice to you. You'll be taken around all twenty-two wells, and your last set of dry clothes will be drenched as bucket after bucket of purifying and slightly salty water is tipped over your head. You'll then be led through the rest of the inner parts of the temple that you're not meant to see, including an enormous cow carved out of a single piece of marble, and the site where Rama worshipped Shiva. Your forehead will then be smeared with sacred flour, and you will wander out of the temple feeling utterly dazed, and not a little disrespectful for having done all this without the least inkling of its significance. So you might then want to go home and read about it.

That evening, it might be a nice idea to drive out to the very tip of the peninsula on the roof of a truck, and watch the sun set, orange and flame-red, on a horizon that is almost entirely sea.

See? That's why I haven't told you what I've been doing. Because you all hate me now! My sister told me it was fortunate I hadn't had any spiritual gorilla experiences because she would break my legs. Now at the sound of rumbling crowbars I feel fear.

Last weekend I went back to Kodaikanal, the hill station I wrote about last. This time I used my time rather better. I think I've already talked about the Kodaikanal view: it's just silly. You shouldn't be able to see that far. It doesn't make sense. Anyway.

I found it an enjoyable way to spend my time getting up at about 5am, well before sunup, and trekking through the weird gathering half light 4 miles to a rocky outcrop called Pillar Rocks, because of the drama of the... rocks. From there you can see the sun rise over the enormous plain, and see the shadows that the hills cast over it in the misty golden light. Watching a day break is something I'd never done before, but it was utterly worth it. Walked back and dined on raw fish omelette! Oh, yes. Omelette. It was good. It was very good.

After breakfast we set off again, this time to Suicide Point; an outcrop of rock that juts out 6 metres over a sheer drop, entirely unsupported. In the gently swirling mist, the feeling of being suspended unimaginably high was palpable. The walk there and back was more of a 5 mile scramble each way through jungle, up and down rock faces, surrounded constantly by very large, inquisitive and aggressive monkeys. All that's missing is the rafting.

Joking aside, all this 'experiencing' if you will, has made me think. Obviously, part of the point of my being here is to do these extraordinary and unrepeatable things, but all the same you have to wonder to what extent by immersing yourself so thoroughly in 'culture' and 'experiences' you are actually cheapening it. Yes, Indian people get up at 5am, but they do agricultural labour and not trekking. What I'm trying to say is that this cultural tourism - which I am very much enjoying, don't misunderstand me - seems a little false, a little forced. Something feels not quite right. It's not that out here volunteers do things because they have some notion that they Should Be Done: they do have genuine interest, but at the same time you're conscious that Indian people don't live their 'culture' - if you'll forgive my abuse of the word - at this ferocious pace, and that really you take maybe a year or two to see Tamil Nadu and really get under its skin. If that would be enough time.

I think I'm going to post this now, even though I still haven't talked about the treatment of women here or the poverty or the smells or anywhere near enough.

TEH 2003 SUMMER ROADTRIP REPORT PART 3 or 4 or whatever I'm on

When last you heard from our two brave adventurers, they were in Edmonton, Alberta, resting up for the push to Alaska. Well, the push is complete, we are in Alaska (and actually preparing to leave again), and all is right with the world. (Note that all might not actually be right with the world; our grasp of current events is a little shaky at present.)

Without further ado I present the actual logs.

The Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway is really long. This should come as no surprise, because Alaska is far away. What did come as a surprise was the pleasant condition of the roadway -- the roads are generally good and as fast as any two-lane highway in the Lower 48. There are gravel patches here and there, and lots of wildlife (more about this later), but generally the road is much better than we had expected. Edmonton to Dawson Creek, BC was a relatively straightforward and somewhat boring drive. Dawson Creek itself is a small town, kind of sleepy-looking, not a whole lot going on; we promptly got on the Highway and headed North.

Our first night along the Alaska Highway found us at Pink Mountain, where there is an excellent campground offering free firewood and hot showers -- just what we needed. Our first impression was that northern BC is a very wild place. It's just the highway, a few things scattered along the side of the road, and forest. It's really relaxing once you get used to it, but disconcerting at first. Anyway, mostly an uneventful day. We noticed, however, that the nights were getting disturbingly short and not dark. This would become a trend.

The next day, we drove from Pink Mountain to Watson Lake, which is about 500 miles. Again the highway was good, not a whole lot happened... I need to fill in more about the small towns along the way when I get my notebook handy again. Blech. Internet is expensive here. At any rate, Watson Lake is home to the Signpost Forest, started in 1942 when a homesick guy working on the Highway posted a sign pointing to his hometown; there are now some 40,000 signs in the forest, and you can add your own if you are so inclined. It's quite a spectacle

The following day was when things started to get interesting along the road. We saw no fewer than 6 black bears, as well as a couple of grizzlies and a moose, as we drove north across the Yukon. Yukon gas, by the way, is cheaper than BC gas, but much more expensive than anything I've seen in the US -- stupid Canadians. Whatever. We stopped around lunchtime at Whitehorse, YT, which is home to the Yukon Brewing Company, the Yukon's only brewery and an excellent one at that. We went on our way, a few 6 packs heavier than before. Lunch was at a queer establishment called Boston Pizza. The idea of a chain called Boston Pizza is wrong on so many levels that I will only enumerate a few of the most glaring problems. The interior is lit up in pink and blue neon lights, more appropriate to an 80s movie set in LA than Boston of any era. The menu includes things like Boston's Famous Wings, which is also not right. In short, the Canadians apparently think Boston is a very, very weird place. We spent the night at Beaver Creek, YT, where I saw the most spectacular sunset of my life - photos will be posted if they come out properly, and when I can get them digitized. This far north, the sun just sweeps from the western sky to set in the North, and the mountains around Beaver Creek were just lit up in explosive colors for about 15 minutes.

The next day (July 4), we finally made it to Alaska! Fairbanks is a nice town on balance, but there's not much to see (and the July 4 celebrations were lacking, to say the least... probably something to do with the no-dark policy they seem to have established in summertime). Anyway, we rested up at Billie's Backpacker's Hostel, which is a fine establishment, ate a good meal, checked out what there was to see in Fairbanks (not a whole lot), and got ready to drive to the Arctic Circle and back the next day, which we accomplished. The Dalton Highway, which follows the Alaska Pipeline north from Mairbanks, is also an excellent road, albeit a gravel one. We made good time, got to the Circle, snapped some pictures, checked out our first tundra, and off we went back to Fairbanks, where we camped to save money.

On the 6th, we proceeded south to Denali National Park. Now, we had neither reservations nor any real plans, and this worked out way better than we could ever have expected or reasonably hoped. We secured a walk-in tent site, took an 8ish mile hike to the summit of Mt. Healy, and booked what is called a Discovery Hike for the following day. A Discovery hike is basically a Ranger-led bushwack (no trails in Denali), and it was the best thing we could have possibly done. We boarded a bus at 8 AM for Mile 63 of the road, where we met the excellent Amy Busch and proceeded to make our way over tundra and through taiga and up Thoroughfare Ridge, where we had lunch, looked around (sadly, Denali was not out that day), and headed back via some excellent scree and a riverbed. Fun times indeed. We got back to our campsite around midnight, slept, woke, ate, and drove to Anchorage, where we now sit in an Internet cafe. To-day it's off to see some glaciers, and tomorrow we are Yukon bound once again. As usual, I will keep you all posted.

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